Updated: Sep 18, 2022
By Max Hirsch
My expectations for ESPN’s latest 10-part series, The Last Dance, weren’t high. Given that the documentary, a film about Michael Jordan, was approved and began production directly after Lebron James’s remarkable third championship, it was clear that Jordan was jealous of the increased attention on Lebron, and that this documentary was an attempt to salvage his legacy. The length of the documentary also gave me some doubts. Keeping someone’s attention for 10 hours is nearly impossible with a documentary, and there have been plenty of other ESPN documentaries on fascinating topics that simply weren’t entertaining, such as Qualified. Just because something is interesting to read about and live through doesn’t necessarily mean it’ll make a great movie or documentary. I also wasn’t a huge Michael Jordan fan and had only general knowledge of his career, not caring much for the specifics. As an avid basketball fan, I was going to watch regardless, but I wasn’t particularly excited about the documentary and therefore approached it with low expectations.
Despite my initial pessimism, every aspect of this documentary kept me captivated and entertained, and the whole film completely blew my expectations out of the water. As for my doubts about the documentary’s seemingly tedious length, my complaint instead was that it wasn’t long enough! I could’ve easily watched another 10 episodes. In particular, the way that the documentary shifted back and forth from Michael Jordan’s 1998 season to the beginning of his career kept fans on their toes, creating suspense for both storylines. The storylines were vastly different, but at the same time connected, and clear parallels were made between the people doubting Jordan in both the beginning and end of his career. There were some really funny clips throughout the film, with some of my favorites being the Celtics’ center, Bill Walton, claiming that the NBA was meant for big men and couldn’t be run by Michael. In addition, Walt Frazier claimed that Michael could’ve been dominant -- if only he were six inches taller. The message always ended up being the same: Don’t doubt Michael Jordan, ever. It only fuels him. The storylines eventually caught up to each other and ended in the most fitting way possible -- another championship.
The interviews, which included everyone from past presidents to hip hop stars, made me feel like a kid living in Chicago during this monumental and exciting time. It’s an incredibly special experience to hear your role models, people such as Barack Obama and Bob Costas, describe their excitement as a kid living through this era. The soundtrack makes viewers feel the intended emotions at all the right times and truly immersed me in the storyline. Its goal was to make the viewer feel like a kid living through this dynasty, creating nostalgia regardless of whether you truly did live through it. For example, I was genuinely devastated when I watched Michael Jordan retire for the first time in the film, even though I knew he was going to come back, and I was incredibly excited when Jordan and the Bulls finally beat the Pistons, despite my not even liking the Bulls prior to watching this documentary!
Considering that this documentary was able to shift my previous views, and truly make me believe that Michael Jordan is the greatest athlete of all time, it’s clear that the film was remarkable and highly convincing. The documentary truly intrigued people from all generations and won their hearts over, a sign of a fabulous series. I would highly recommend watching it as soon as possible.